Tag Archives: Sleeping

Perchance to (Please!) Sleep

How am I supposed to write 150 words on being tired, when I’m completely exhausted? I’m tired. I’m so, so, so tired.

I work a very early weekend morning shift a local ABC/CNN affiliate in Scranton, Pa.

I’ve been working this shift for about five years and my body still hasn’t completely adjusted to getting up at 1:30 every weekend morning.

I live about 40 miles away from the station.

Not only does the job require mental focus and sharp attention to detail, but I need to be alert enough to make the commute in.

Knock on wood, I haven’t fallen asleep behind the wheel – yet. I thank Spotify for that.

There are long hours some days and schedule changes without much notice. Take for example last Thursday. I didn’t get home until midnight. I slept approximately three shitty hours. Rigby, our cat, jumped on me in the middle of the night.

My two tweenage children were slamming doors while getting ready for school. My husband was yelling at said children, finally a child shoved a paper in my face from the school nurse to be signed at 7 a.m.

OK people. I get it, I am awake. No use in trying to go back to sleep, because it won’t happen. My husband gets to comfortably sleep in until at least 10 a.m. every day.

He works from home and the people on his team are in the mountain time zone. Some days, he sleeps until noon. It infuriates me. I think the last time I had a decent night of sleep was in maybe 2002 or 2003, which were the years before I was pregnant with my first child.

I woke up every day and night with my children when they cried, had a dirty diaper, were sick or needed something. In a way, the lack of sleep during motherhood has trained me for my current role at the news station.

What are the effects of my exhaustion?

Off of the top of my head, my feet drag, my mind isn’t sharp, I’m short with people, I’m in a constant state of exhaustion, I lack motivation, my mind is soup.

It feels a lot like having the engine of a Ferrari inside the body of a Yugo. I want to do things, but I tire out so quickly. I bargain with my alarm clock every morning. I’ve tried taking sleeping pills, but they make me groggy and I’m terrified I’ll oversleep and miss my alarm.

Caffeine helps me get through most mornings, but I know it isn’t healthy for me. For the first few months of this schedule, I was slamming energy drinks. The result was that I was feeling lightheaded and my heart was racing. I felt like I was going to faint all of the time.

I went to see a specialist and they sent me through various rounds of tests. Nothing solid was ever diagnosed, but eventually I was put on beta blockers after I passed out during a tilt table test.

A few years later I was sent for a sleep study. Nothing of value was diagnosed there either, other than “you need to change your hours or find a new job.” Sure, I’ll get right on that.

I miss out on a lot of things in people’s lives. Birthday parties, holiday celebrations, etc. are normally held on weekends, and I am unable to go because either I’m asleep, or know that I’ll have to sleep soon.

I feel like I live on borrowed time most weeks. This is where the bargaining with the clock also begins.

“Well, maybe if I sleep in like 20 extra minutes, I can stop by this event for an hour and leave.”

I also get frustrated with people very easily. I’ve gotten into yelling matches with people for seemingly no reason or over something so insignificant and relationships have suffered.

It leaves me feeling terrible and guilty. I don’t mean to be a jerk to people, but they just don’t understand how crappy I’m feeling.

To learn more about Michelle,  check out her bio and her blog.

Work, Drive, Sleep, Rinse and Repeat

Based on my new work schedule, I now qualify to be two out of the Seven Dwarfs: Sleepy and Dopey.

The start of my work day recently shifted from 5 p.m. to 6:30 a.m.

For someone like me who is naturally a morning person, this was great but the change put sand in my gears – and felt like in my eyes as well.

I have always been an early riser, dating to when I was 13 and delivering The Daily News in the Bronx.

I was thrilled to get a jumpstart on the day and watch the city transition from slumber to wakefulness.

That all changed 2.5 years ago, when I started a job in New York City that required me to work nights.

Instead of getting to bed at 10:30 p.m., I was leaving the office by then or much later, like 12:30 a.m.

The whiplash meant resetting my natural body clock.

On the plus side, commuting home was easy because you could fire a cannon on the highway and not hit anything.

The downside was that in the mornings I would sleepuntil 10 a.m. (if I was successful at fighting the urge not to wake up earlier), and I would almost always feel like I was merely waiting to leave for work in the afternoon.

I felt too restless or time-constrained to get anything useful done.

I no sooner got (somewhat) adjusted to my late hours than my schedule shifted to a 6:30 a.m. start time.

So now instead of getting to bed at 3 a.m., I get up at that hour.

Doing that kind of yo-yoing with your sleep does weird things to your body.

For instance, I am ready to slam back a Red Bull by 9:30 in the morning and by 10:30, I am ready for lunch.

It is also weird that as noon draws near, and most people are getting ready for lunch, I am looking ahead to soon leaving.

It is great that I get to be home with my wife for dinner but now I get to bed around 8:30 p.m., my bedtime when my age was in the single digits!

At my age (closing in on 53), these kinds of adjustments do not come easily. I have as much capacity to bounce back as a deflated basketball.

I lose track of what day it is, time becomes a blur and focusing on details on the job requires even more concentration, which, you guessed it, makes me even more tired.

I need a steady flow of coffee to keep me from face-planting into my keyboard.

I know from friends who pull long days or shifts in the middle of the night the challenges of being sleep-deprived.

I appreciate the importance of sleep for your mental health, regulating blood sugar, rebooting your brain and other functions, but what can you do when this is what your job or life requires?

I’d like to hear your stories of a fractured sleep-work cycle and what happens to you when you get too little sleep. How do you cope? Any insights or remedies to offer?

Write me at amr@aboutmenshow.com.

While I await your emails, I have to wake up and inhale the coffee.

Related content:

Sleep-Deprived As a Way of Life


Getting a Little Bit Fit With My FitBit

I got a FitBit for Father’s Day, so I am hoping to get a bit fit.

For the six of you who have not heard of this electronic geegaw, it is the latest example of better living through technology.

It straps to your wrist, and like a watch, it will display the time, but it also tracks your heart rate, number of steps you take, stairs you climb, calories burned and miles walked.

My younger son was so in love with his FitBit and I was equally impressed, so I asked for one for Father’s Day.

What I have found so far is that as a middle-aged guy, it is yet another way for me to discover how I don’t measure up.

Fitness experts recommend you walk at least 10,000 steps a day. If I break about 6,000, that is a good day.

fitbit 1
My first time breaking 10,000 steps! Hurray!

As someone who spends four-plus hours in the car five days a week, getting to that goal would be a challenge, unless of course I drove a Fred Flintstone-type car where you pedal furiously with your feet to get started.

But I am finding that I am making adjustments in light of the FitBit. For instance, today I walked an extra block out of my way just so I could rack up extra steps toward my total.

I also make it a point to take the stairs instead of an escalator when I have the option. With its attractive graphics, FitBit gives me encouragement for climbing more flights of stairs.

The one feature I am fascinated with — and at the same time a bit creeped out by — is the one that tells me how much I have slept.

FitBit is like Santa Claus that way: It knows when you are sleeping. If it starts telling me whether I have been naughty or nice, it’s coming off my wrist.

I have also been using an app called MyFitnessPal in which you track what you are eating, total calories consumed and your exercise.

You set a weight loss goal and it gives you an ideal daily caloric intake based on your height, weight and time you have set to lose the weight.

You enter your food and it keeps diligent track of your progress.

This too has been unnerving and eye-opening.

You mean my medium hot Dunkin’ Donuts coffee with milk and sugar is 112 calories?


Out goes the sugar. Milk only from now on with my coffee. A net savings of 77 calories. I feel thinner already.

What I have discovered is that calories are a lot like time and money: Once you have consumed them, there is no getting them back so it is important to be judicious

FitBit and MyFitnessPal are merely tools to help keep me on track toward a healthy, balanced me. Of course, they are no substitute for sensible eating, exercise and a good night’s sleep.

But if FitBit wanted to be really helpful, it could give me a low dose of electric current, like a cattle prod, every time I reach for a cookie.


Related links:

Battle of the Bulge: The Struggle to Eat Right and Exercise

About Exercise: Never Too Old To Bring It

A New Me

Celebrating 14 Years of My ‘Exercise Sobriety’


Do You See a Pattern…Zzzzzzz

We love About Men Radio posse member John O’Connell, aka Father John.

For the 40-plus years that I’ve known John, he has always been a night owl, not a morning lark.

As kids, he would be getting to bed at a time that I would be into my fifth hour of sleep.

As an adult, John likes to catch catnaps.

And we, loving, ball-busting friends that we are, like to catch him catching catnaps.

Behold, at a barbecue at my house in August 2014. (Note a guest in the background who was probably talking when John nodded off.)


More recently, during our get-together as a group in Florida, John was hardly off the plane 30 minutes before he had nodded out in Silvio’s car.

Note the look of disgust on Silvio’s face. *sad trombone*


But the one that absolutely is John’s crowing achievement came when we went on an airboat ride on a Florida lake.

Do you have any idea of how loud an airboat ride is? We’re talking 80 to 90-plus decibels loud.

It is the equivalent of standing on a subway platform and falling asleep above all that din.

Well, you guessed it:


And no, he was not just *resting his eyes.*

Now I’ve gotta take a nap!

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Celebrating 14 Years of My ‘Exercise Sobriety’

Today marks my birthday but more important than that, it is year 14 of my “exercise sobriety.”

At About Men Radio, we’ve touched on health, fitness, exercise and eating right in any number of podcasts and blog posts.

Pedro and I talked about our exercise routines and eating right in podcasts here and here.

And I discussed my training for the Warrior Dash extreme race. (Unfortunately my work schedule kept me from competing but there is always next year!)

I also recounted my excitement about meeting and working out with exercise guru and man crush Tony Horton and explained how it’s never too late to burn off the goo.

Getting the right amount of rest, eating as close to healthy as you can and exercising take on a whole new level of importance when you reach, ahem, a certain age.

I know I’ve told this story before, but I want to repeat here today, partly to reinforce the lesson to myself after 14 years, but also to tell my brethren (and sistren) that it is NEVER too late to get started.

I was 37, woefully out of shape, stressed to the max and eating like a maniac.

My routine was a doughnut and coffee at 3 p.m., which would send my sugar levels spiking and then crashing, taking my energy levels with it.

Late nights featured chocolate dipped in peanut butter with a Kahlua-and-milk chaser, topped off with maybe five or six hours of sleep each night.

Rinse and repeat.

My fiancée at the time bought me a pair of push-up bars, a VHS exercise tape and a sit-up bar. They sat off in the corner for many, many months.

She never nagged me or even said a word about the equipment but I knew they were there.

My epiphany came after a dinner of three (or was it four?) slices of pizza followed by truly yummy Italian pastries from one of the local bakeries.

I am still not sure what happened, but something clicked (or snapped) and on my 37th birthday, I popped in the boot camp exercise VHS tape.


I had to quit after about 15 minutes.

I was winded and frustrated that I could not keep up. But I tried it the next day. And the next and the next and the next.

By the end of the week, I was getting through the entire 30-minute video.

Over time, I began biking, lifting weights, running and doing other forms of cardio. I dropped 40 pounds, about half of which, over time, I’ve put back on.

But that does not discourage me.

For about the last seven years, I’ve been doing P90x workouts with my man Tony Horton. He’s a good coach and I find him inspiring.


Do I fall short of my goals? Hell yes. Am I ready to grace the cover of “Men’s Health” magazine? Hell no!

But I’m averaging four to five days a week of exercise, and I keep just showing up and that’s more than half the battle.

If you’re looking to make changes in your life, start with small steps.

You will be amazed at the strides you will make.

Take it from someone who’s been there.

If I can do it, so can you.

Drop me a line at amr@aboutmenradio.com and tell me about how you’re coping. We can swap ideas and give a little support to each other.

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